Grandmother thankful to Family Service Center

“Since we’ve been here, people have been helping me. I am so thankful.”


Brenda and her grandson Andre moved into Catholic Charities’ Family Service Center on a warm June day. There, they were provided a room to share, access to meals, and the support of staff working to help them reach their next stepping stone on their pathway out of poverty.

Family Service Center provides families with a safe, stable place to sleep and get back on their feet.

Brenda and Andre have enjoyed their time at Family Service Center, thankful to have “a roof over my head and privacy—my own closet—my own bed—my own space.”

It’s not the home they once had, but Brenda and Andre are both thankful nonetheless.

Brenda, who has raised her grandson since he was two-weeks-old, was the friendly face at a Bloomington discount store for more than a decade. She would spend two hours each day commuting—she loved her work so much she said the time was well spent—until cancer got in the way.

“When I got sick, I wasn’t able to work anymore, so I wasn’t able to pay the rent,” Brenda explained.

Somewhere deep inside, Brenda suspects she knew there was something seriously wrong with her, but illness is a frightening truth to face. In April, 2016, Brenda was diagnosed with Stage 3 leukemia.

“I just knew I was getting real weak,” she said. “I seriously didn’t know I had cancer. I was getting skinnier and I was coughing and coughing. Maybe I knew it and didn’t want to know it.”

As much as Brenda is grateful for having that soft place to land at Family Service Center when she lost their home, she has a powerful deadline to contend with. She went into remission once, but the cancer is back.

She regularly spends long days at the hospital receiving chemotherapy. Andre spends those days with her, keeping busy reading his favorite Dr. Seuss books, watching TV and being doted on by the nurses for the day-long chemotherapy treatments.

At a recent visit, doctors told Brenda that she must have a bone marrow transplant soon and her children are being tested to determine if one of them may be her donor.

While everyone experiencing homelessness prays for a place to call home, Brenda’s need is urgent as she yearns to recover from her transplant at home, and wants Andre to be settled into their new home as he begins another school year.

“Since we’ve been here, people have been helping me,” she said. “I am so thankful.”

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